Not sure which Concept 2 Rower is best for you? Well, we have discussed both the Concept 2 Model D and Concept2 Model E to make the buying decision easier for you.

Rowing is becoming the next big thing when it comes to cardio workouts and it seems that Concept 2 is leading the way.

If you’re planning to buy a concept 2 rower but you’re not sure which one’s right for you, then you’re at the right place. We’ve spent days reviewing rowing machines from a variety of brands, and while there are cheaper options out there. If you need the biggest, badest, meanest rowing machine out there then nothing can beat a Concept 2 Rower.

We have reviewed both the flagship products, the Concept 2 Model D and Model E to make the buying decision easier for you.

Best Rowing Machine Reviews for 2017-18

In-Depth Concept2 Rower Reviews

#1 Recommendation: Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower with PM5 Monitor

You know who fancies training on Concept 2 indoor rowers? The professionals who get that “GOLD” for our country, in the Olympics. In this review, you are going to find out why do they love this so much.

Okay, so, first of all, you know why indoor rowing machines are good for you, Right? No? Don’t worry, I’ll explain. When you are exercising on a rowing machine, you are resembling the motion of a professional rower.

This motion is a full-body workout from head to toe. It gives a full stretch to your abdominal muscles, it contracts the chest, it gradually builds strength in your forearms and legs, and stretches muscles, unlike any other cardio machine. Next, it pumps your cardiovascular system.

Now if you are already into fitness, an improved cardiovascular system, will help you burn fat quickly and make that dream of a ‘lean’ body a reality, by pumping more oxygen to every muscle of your body.

And if you want to lose weight, the increase in your heart rate will burn fat fast, like crazy fast.

Overall, a rowing machine is the perfect body trainer, that gets you warmed up and pumps oxygen, to places where you need it.

So, the benefits of an indoor rowing machine are loud and clear, but how does the Model D, perform? Well, if we had to sum it one word, it will be – Phenomenal! And it does that through 3 main pillars, discussed below.

Concept2 Model D

Pillar #1 – Performance Monitor 5 – Your Virtual Trainer

Like most training machines these days, this tracks the basic, distance, speed, pace, calories burned and watts. If you have heart rate monitor, that it can display that too, with help of ANT+ and ‘Bluetooth Smart’ technology.

But this didn’t impress us, most rowing machines have this. It is the technology on that little computer, that deserves a round of applause.

1. It has preloaded workouts, that help you through the entire session, to achieve a specific target. This can particularly help, newbies, who can utilize this to get proper training.

2. It has inbuilt games, which are challenging but add a little ‘fun’ element to your session. Who doesn’t love a challenge right?

3. You can race on this. Yes, it connects to a computer and with this, you can race with your friends or family members using the same machine (It can track data for 5 different users, on the same machine). This adds a competitive touch to your workouts. And guess who love this feature? The professional athletes, training from their personal gyms.

In addition to all this, you can connect the machine to your computer, to track all your workouts and through this, you can pair your data, with third-party software’s’, like RowPro and ErgStick, which further increases the functionality.

Don’t have a trainer to guide you? Don’t worry, Concept 2 Model D, has one for you, inside the machine. Pretty dope, right?

Pillar #2 – Flywheel Air Resistance and Damper Settings

If you are wondering, why Concept 2 rowing machines, are expensive, it is primarily because of flywheel resistance. In a nutshell, the resistance increases, with the effort you put in. This results in a more extensive workout that pushes your body to the limit. For professional rowers, it helps them to train for varied tidal conditions, they experience while competing.

Next, we have an adjustable damper. Now, a common misconception is that the damper settings have an impact on the resistance. On the contrary, adjustable damper settings basically change the amount of air entering the flywheel. Lower the value, lessen the amount of air that enters the machine.

This is done to stimulate riding different boat sizes, on a single machine. Lesser values (from 1-3), resemble a small (or sleek) racing boat, that can swiftly sail across the track, while higher values, resemble a bigger boat, that requires more force to accelerate.

For a professional, this helps in stimulating race environment, and also builds strength for faster acceleration (as they are virtually riding on a bigger boat, that requires greater force for acceleration).

For regular people, it presents the opportunity for a more extensive workout. In lower damper values, you are applying less force quickly, while for higher values, you are applying more force which is spread across the whole motion. It not only helps in pumping up your heart but also increases overall strength. Quite a workout right?

Pillar #3 – It’s Built like a Tank

The premium quality build of the Model D ensures that it lasts a lifetime. From the flawless motion of the saddle (seat) on the frame to the handle that has a nickel-plated chain, the entire framework, is built to last, and last longer. You can find Concept 2 rowers, in the gyms where they are used by multiple users, day in & day out. They are used by multiple professional rowers, and the machine keeps working for years. It is designed to handle abuse, Period!

Although you will have to do regular maintenance, like oiling the flywheel or cleaning the frame to minimize friction, this task won’t take much time, and your machine will last for years.

Apart from these, there are other notable features that we like: –

  • The Machine is foldable and can be stored easily.
  • The pedals (or the footrests) and the handles are ergonomic.
  • The seat is quite comfortable.
  • Model D has a warranty of 2 to 5 years depending on the component.

The Bad

They are no major cons that we can pinpoint, but there are two issues, that people have with this, and we are going to address them.

  1. Price – This machine, doesn’t come cheap and is one of the most expensive indoor machines that you can buy. But for the price, you get a full-body workout, a virtual trainer guiding you through the whole process, smooth flywheel resistance, and adjustable damper settings, for a more extensive workout and to top it all off, industry grade build.
  2. Noise – Yes, this is a flywheel machine, and such machines are loud. But you are buying this for an extensive workout and the noise is a small bargain for that. Frankly, if you are planning to train in a library, then don’t buy this, but if that is not that case, the noise won’t be a major hindrance.

Sum It up Please!

The Model D is a rowers dream. It nearly resembles the real riding experience, and for regular people, it is hands down the most extensive cardiovascular workout that you can get from a training machine.

And to know, how much will all this cost you, click on the link below.

#2 Recommendation: Concept 2 Model E Rower

Concept 2 Model E or as we like to call it Concept 2 Model D Refined Version, is a beast of a machine. Model D was also already winning rave reviews from Fitness Trainers and even Professional rowers, so when Model E was launched naturally a lot of hype was created.

To be honest, it is not a major upgrade from the Model D, but it comes with certain refinements that appeal to a certain subset of people. In this review, we share everything well with this rower and also answer the ‘million-dollar question’, Model D or Model E?

But first, if you are unsure what an indoor rowing machine can do for you, then we have a quick recap for you. When you train, on a rowing machine, you essentially stretch every muscle of your body. It is great if you are warming up, and pumps oxygen to your muscles.

For those of you looking to lose weight, then this machine gives a huge boost to your cardiovascular system. It increases the heart rate, which in turn has a positive effect on your body metabolism. This helps you burn fat faster, and also increases body strength.

Now let’s get to the review. In terms of operation, Model E is exactly similar to the Model D and carries the same awesomeness in terms of performance.

Concept2 Model E

Performance Monitor 5 & Flywheel Resistance

The PM5 acts as a virtual trainer for you. Apart from giving data for basic metrics (like distance, calories burned etc.), it has some nifty features that help you train better.

It has preloaded workouts, which can help newbies get accustomed to the machine and helps them maximize their performance on the rower. It also comes with preloaded games, that makes the whole training session interesting.

With a USB cable, you can transfer all your data to your laptop, and the PM5 monitor is also compatible with third-party software.

The wheelbase is home for flywheel resistance set. The resistance in such systems increases when the user puts in more effort. This helps the user to get a more efficient workout.

The damper settings on the right, change the amount of air that enters the wheelbase. This is done to stimulate size variations of boats.

For example, at lower values, the rower machine will feel like a sleek boat that can achieve faster acceleration quickly, while at higher values, it feels like a bigger boat, that requires greater force for acceleration. For training purposes, at higher damper value, the user would have to exert more force to complete the motion.

Model D Vs Model E – Which one to Buy?

If you are middle-aged or have some balancing issues then, in the long run, Model E seems a much better option as it comes with lesser height. Furthermore, it requires lesser maintenance, which again proves to be a big PRO in the long run.

Other than that, it is better to save money, and by the Model D which offers the same quality performance and durability.

About Concept 2

Founded by two brothers in 1976, Concept 2 has grown from strength to strength.

From launching the first model (Model A) in 1981, which was basically built from bicycle components, the company has brought a technological revolution in Indoor Rowers after launching Models like Model D and Model E, which are regarded as, one of the most technologically advanced indoor training machines.

Apart from manufacturing, accessories like bars,

Concept 2 specializes in two kinds of training equipment: –

Indoor Rowers – Concept 2 rowers are the flagships of the company. Trusted by professional rowers, this one is designed to give your cardiovascular system a major boost. The whole rowing motion gives you a full body workout, that helps in building muscle strength and also burns through fat.

Concept 2 Model D and Model E, can be found in many gyms across the country, and it is the preferred equipment in World Indoor Rowing Championship. Concept 2 rowers are the ‘Gold Standard’ in the fitness community.

SkiErg – SkiErgs launched in 2009, stimulate the experience of Nordic Skiing. It helps increase polling strength among professional skiers and gives a thorough upper-body workout, and at the same time boosts your body metabolism, helping you burn fat quickly.

Now we believe there are two significant hallmarks that set the Concept 2 Machines apart and establish them as ‘Industry Leaders’. They are discussed below: –

Performance Monitor – The Virtual Trainer

Now, most training equipment has monitors which show basic data like distance covered or calories burned, but with certain tricks up its sleeves, the Performance Monitors act as your Personal Virtual Trainer.

First, you get preloaded workouts with the machine, which guide you through the whole session and help you achieve a particular target. First-time users use this to get accustomed to the machine.

You also get pre-installed games, which give you different targets in the training session, thus making the whole session more challenging and fun. The best part, however, is that you can connect the monitor to your laptop, and can track all your data through a third-party software.

Such software offers other features which help you compete with anyone around the world, thus expanding the reach of your workout. You can also compete with your family members, using the same machine and data can be stored for up to 5 different users.

All in all, you get assistance with your workouts, you can compete with anyone in the world, you can track all your data and set targets and also make your workouts more fun.

Flywheel Resistance and Damper Settings

All Concept 2 machines use flywheel resistance. In such machines, the harder you push, the more effort is required. Unlike magnetic resistance, where a single resistance is maintained through the entire workout, in flywheel machines, the user can alter the resistance level, by changing the amount of effort he or she puts in.

This helps in giving a more extensive workout and develops strength.

The wheelbase of both the rower and SkiErg, have damper settings which can be altered, to change the amount of air that gets into the wheelbase. This makes the indoor experience comparable to the actual world.

For example, in case of a rowing machine, a lower damper value, will give the experience of a small boat while higher damper settings, will give the experience of rowing a bulkier boat.

Similarly, in case of SkiErg, higher damper value, will be similar to a higher leap while lower damper value will be equivalent to lower leaps.

For professional rower or skiers, this helps them to train for different environments, but it serves incredibly well for fitness purposes too.

At higher damper values, you have to exert more force in order to complete a rep, and this helps to build muscle strength and endurance. It also helps in losing more calories, quickly.

However, the choice of damper value depends on the user and target he or she is trying to achieve, but the spectrum of the workout you get with Concept 2 machines, is unparalleled.

Apart from these major hallmarks, there are few other things which make Concept 2 Machines, a good investment: –

Industry Grade Construction – Concept 2 machines are built to last. Right from the frame to the resistance set, everything is quality tested and made with durable (and long-lasting materials).

Concept 2 equipment can be found in gyms and colleges where there used by several users’ day in and day out, and yet they continue to perform without a hiccup.

Warranty – The confidence Concept 2 has on its machines, is reflected in the warranty. You get a two-year warranty for moving parts and a five-year warranty for the frame. So if by any chance, your machine breaks down, Concept 2 has you covered.

Low Maintenance – Thanks to the superior built quality, the maintenance required is comparatively lower. Mostly you will be required to the oil the chain and clean the frame, to keep it friction free.

In the Concept Model E and the latest model of SkiErg, the construction is further improved, thus the frequency of maintenance is further reduced.

The Dark Side of Getting a Concept 2 Rowing Machine

There are two major issues with Concept 2 machines, and in this section, we will be talking about them.


Concept 2 Machine are termed as ‘loud machines’. However, the noise produced is because of the resistance model. Flywheel machines are generally loud as they involve generation of eddy currents.

Secondly, with variable damper settings, Concept 2 Machines alter the amount of air getting into the machine. This again has a direct impact on the noise.

To be honest, noise cannot be considered as a major con. If you are planning to workout in the basement and want to watch the TV with it, you will have some issues with hearing but at full volume, the noise produced by the machine won’t be a major hindrance.

Moreover, the level of workout you get is exceptional, and the loud noise is the compromise you would have to make for this.


The major concern people have before buying any Concept 2 machine is the price. They don’t come in cheap but few have few points that you would like to consider –

a) You get best in class resistance settings with the added functionality of damper adjustment, making the workout way more extensive.

b) These machines are built to last and essentially are ‘life-time investments’. So you won’t have to worry about replacing or upgrading your machine and you can continue to train on them for years.

c) Finally even if somehow, your machine gets faulty, you are covered by the generous warranty offered by Concept 2

Concept 2 machines come in the price bracket of $700 – $1200, and for the price, in our opinion, you are getting exactly what you are paying for.

Conclusion – Who should buy this brand

If you are looking to lose weight or want to boost body metabolism, Concept 2 machines are the highly recommended. The whole rowing and skiing motion burn down fat, and with increased metabolism, you burn fat rapidly.

Once you have achieved your weight loss goals, this machines is great to warm up before heavy lifting and stretches major muscles of your body. It also helps in building strength and endurance.

All in all, this serves one piece of equipment you can use for all kinds of fitness targets.

For other users, also this boosts your cardiovascular system and is perfect for the all-body workout.

However, it comes at a premium price point, and it clearly is not for everyone. We recommend this only to those who are serious about fitness and workout is part of their daily routine.

For beginners or occasional workouts, you can go for equipment made by stamina, as they come at a lower price point.

Concept2 Rowers
  • Concept 2 Model D
  • Concept 2 Model E


While both the rower go toe-to-toe when it comes to features, the Concept 2 Model E Rower comes with refinements and adjustments that make it suitable for the elderly but these refinements come at a cost.

In case you don’t have the budget, the Concept 2 Model D Indoor Rower with PM5 Monitor is the ideal buy and does not compromise on durability or functionality.